Explaining printed Business Reply envelopes from the Royal Mail

Custom-printed Business Reply Envelopes, DL, C5 & C4 Size.

Business Reply Envelopes, are 'No Stamp Required' Envelopes within the UK. They are part of the Royal Mail's response service.

They encourage customers to reply to you, or your company, without paying Royal Mail postage costs. You'll pay it for them.

Busn Reply envelopes are the professional way to do it and can be printed by Trade Printing UK (after you first apply for a licence from Royal Mail — see below) with your company's details and company logo, using Royal Mail's layout guidelines (we'll use our superb, professional templates to create that for you!).

Trade Printing UK are a leading Business Reply envelope printing company within the print industry. Business Reply Envelopes can be printed from just £19 with FREE DELIVERY.


A quick HD video guide on how to order BUSINESS REPLY Envelopes from Trade Printing UK

I want printed Business Reply Envelopes – how do I get them?

You'll need to apply to the Royal Mail to buy either a 'Business Reply Standard' or 'Business Reply Plus' licence.  e.g. BBBB-CCCC-DDDD).

You're only paying for post that you receive back from customers.

You pay Royal Mail for those on a MONTHLY basis.



How much does a Business Reply Licence Cost?

An annual licence fee of £99.90 + VAT per year — paid up front to Royal Mail. Any added licences cost £68 + VAT per year if you have 10+ other branches.

The Response Services' Annual Licence fee allows you to choose either:

  Busn. Reply Standard / Freepost Standard


  Busn. Reply PLUS / Freepost PLUS

Choose a  'Standard' or 'PLUS' licence bundle, depending on your requirements below...

Business Reply Envelope annual licence costs from Royal Mail 2021 graphic


How much will it cost me for each Business Reply envelope with Royal Mail?

Once you have a Royal Mail licence, you then pay a price per single response.

You pay Royal Mail — on a MONTHLY account basis — for EACH returned Busn. Reply envelope that a customer sends back to you.  This encompasses items up to a 100g weight.

There are TWO types of Freepost licence available:

  PLUS which is machine-sorted and more efficient

  STANDARD which is machine or hand-sorted depending on envelope size.

You'll need a separate licence for each office address, if you have more than one.


Under a PLUS licence for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes ONLY! — (C4 is not available)

Business Reply PLUS — 1st Class:  68p
Business Reply PLUS — 2nd Class:  48p


Under a STANDARD licence for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes — 

Business Reply STANDARD — 1st Class:  74p
Business Reply STANDARD — 2nd Class:  57p


C4 "Large Letter" size is ONLY available under a STANDARD licence — up to 100g weight and is more expensive, due to being hand sorted by humans

Business Reply STANDARD C4 — 1st Class:  £1.07
Business Reply STANDARD C4 — 2nd Class:  85p


Here is Royal Mail's latest 2022 Response Services Rate Card.

Royal Mail Charge per Business Reply Envelope graphic


How long does Business Reply take to be delivered?

Business Reply envelopes are treated the same way as normal UK post. They have the same delivery time as any other 1st Class or 2nd Class post.

1st Class post will be delivered to you in 1-2 days

2nd Class post will be delivered to you in 2-4 days within the UK and Northern Ireland usually.


How do I get Business Reply envelopes printed after I have a licence?

Once you have bought your Busn Reply licence from Royal Mail, you can then place your order with us to print envelopes for you.

TradePrintingUK can create professional Freepost artwork for you from our Business Reply templates.

Supply your licence number and address details to us and we will do the rest.

Once created, we can forward the professional artwork to Royal Mail for Copy Approval.

This helps to speed up the entire process and will take the burden off yourselves.


Things to bear in mind and benefits of using us

Your Address block, 1st & 2nd class Indicia, plus the Licence number must ALWAYS BE PRINTED IN BLACK INK. 

We can add your Company Logo for FREE, which we will print in Full Colour.


What's the DIFFERENCE between Busn. Reply STANDARD and Busn. Reply PLUS envelopes?

Busn. Reply Plus is the most popular variant as it rewards you with an extra postage discount.

Currently this 'Plus' discount is 9p OFF per 2nd Class item, compared to 'Standard' envelopes.

'Plus' envelopes can only weigh up to 100g weight though. They must also be pre-printed with the special 'Plus' artwork and indicia barcode.

Busn. Reply Standard is the least popular of the two types. It allows for larger C4 envelopes (unlike Freepost Plus which doesn't).

C4 'Large Letter' size envelopes are hand-sorted and excluded from 'Plus' licence. You must have a 'Standard' response licence to use C4 'Large Letter' size.


Do Business Reply Envelopes need a stamp?

Not in the traditional sense, but they do use the same 1st Class or 2nd Class Indicia in the top right of the artwork as Business Reply Envelopes.

If you're a charity it's best NOT to ask your patrons donating to you to stick a stamp over the indicia as it will cost your charity extra money by a fine from the Royal Mail. So in the end it'll cost you money.

Business Reply Envelopes 1st or 2nd Class Indicia postage mark graphic


Why choose a BUSINESS REPLY envelope over a FREEPOST Envelope?

Good question! The straight answer is, there is NO difference! NONE whatsoever. THEY DO THE SAME THING! It's all down to personal choice.

Busn. Reply is MORE formal yet exhibits same features as Freepost. It also has a choice of 1st or 2nd class indicia, delivered at the same time, and more business-focused.

Business Reply has a MORE formal and professional look. But there is NO difference in the actual service or what it actually does.

It is about public perception. We wish they'd standardise everything into one product, but there you go.


How to CONTACT the Royal Mail Freepost licensing team post-Covid

To CONTACT the Royal Mail “Freepost” licensing team phone: 03457 950950

Then Press '1', then hold, then Press '4', then Press '2' — this will get you speaking to an actual person!

Lines are open 8am to 5pm — Monday to Friday. Alternatively, E-mail the Royal Mail response services licensing team


Already got a licence? You'll need the modern "Response Services Barcode" added to your existing artwork.

Back in April 2014, the Royal Mail introduced an additional font-based barcode to the licence plate area in the top left of envelopes, which must be added to your additional artwork (if you've got Freepost envelopes before). You can supply it by entering the 12-digit licence numbering into their Response Services Artwork Generator and pick the "Response Services Barcode" only, remembering that DL and C5 are classed as "Letter" size, and C5 is classed as "Large Letter" size. Then choose either "EPS vector' or "PDF" format from the final radio button choice.

Business Reply Licence Barcode Example.
TradePrintingUK can add that for you. Just phone 020 4568 3757 or E-mail us today and we can update your existing Freepost envelope artwork for you.


What type of flap can I use? Self-Seal or Peel & Seal?

From an over-printing perspective, we normally produce your Busn Reply envelopes via our now standard, premium 120gsm peel & seal product ranges (the highest quality in the UK print industry for this sector!) for quantities ranging from 250 - 5000; over this and you have the option to use our 100gsm Self-Seal envelope product on either the 'Busn Reply Standard' or 'Busn Reply Plus' licence formats.

We have two popular types of glued flaps on our Business Reply Envelopes:

120gsm Peel & Seal Envelope with top, long-edge, Wallet Flap

120gsm Peel & Seal

Our standard, Superior envelope product using premium 120gsm white bond paper, featuring a strong, single-use, pressure-sensitive gum behind a waxy paper strip that you remove to expose the glue before sealing the flap down securely.

They aren't compatible with automatic insertion [Fulfilment] machines — which require 90gsm Gummed Machinable with a special gummed flap shape — but are fantastic for long-term storage and portraying a high-end luxury image for your company.

An easy way for your customer to send back correspondence as a Freepost envelope, without resorting to licking the envelope (yuck! Nobody needs to lick an envelope any more) to seal it.

These are presented in "Superior" branded, high-end, red & black storage boxes, oozing quality.

SHELF LIFE: up to 5 years

WALLET Long-Edge Flap

BOXED: in 500's (C4 in 250's)

100gsm Self-Seal Envelope with top, long-edge, Wallet Flap

100gsm Self-Seal (aka "Touch & Seal")

Our alternative premium envelope is on 100gsm white bond paper. These use a pressure-sensitive gum applied to both flaps. You then seal down together to form the bond with each strip of gum.

These have the bonus of a security pattern printed inside the envelope.

SHELF LIFE: up to 6 months (as glue will dry out)

WALLET Long-Edge Flap as standard on all sizes, C6, DL, C5, and C4


BOXED: in 500's (C4 in 250's)


How long do Business Reply Envelopes take to be delivered?

Business Reply envelopes in the UK are treated the same way as Freepost, with the same delivery time by Royal Mail as any other 1st Class or 2nd Class post. 1st Class should be delivered to you in 1-2 days; and 2nd Class will be delivered to you in 2-4 days within the UK and Northern Ireland usually.